Synopsis: The Baudelaires find themselves orphaned after a mysterious fire, and while regularly needing to escape the greedy and villainous Count Olaf, they learn the convoluted set of secrets that led to their unfortunate predicaments.
• Neil Patrick Harris’ Count Olaf was perfectly portrayed as the darkly twisted soul of the series, as the Baudelaires (Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, and even Presley Smith) countered as the series’ tortured yet resilient heart.
• The distinct self-awareness, especially seen through Olaf and Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton), provided some of the most potent humor.
• The often gloomy alternate reality portrayed was so close to our own at times that it was almost an indictment.
• The discussions of knowledge, altruism, choice, destiny, vengeance, and greed were perfectly intertwined. The highlighting of different perspectives was also quite potent.
• Like watching a spy story through the lens of the victims caught in the middle of the after effects of debatable choices.
• Words and knowledge were used as weapons and shields for both the characters and those watching.
• Certainly a bit too dark and stressful for some.
• While not truly predictable, some of the plot-lines were a bit formulaic.
• The ending might not feel quite in line with the overall unfortunate events that led to it.
A Series of Unfortunate Events was a rare series that successfully threw an overwhelming set of themes into a single, often very dark narrative. That success was arguably a result of so much of it almost being indirect to the plight of the Baudelaires. Like the production design, the intricate backstory became a murky reflection of anyone’s lives. There can be a distinct chain of events that led us to our very existence, yet weeding through the true causes and effects might be difficult. For the Baudelaires, that complexity was exponentially more so, thanks to their parents’ intimate connection with the V.F.D.
The events surrounding the ultimate collapse of that secret altruistic organization made this all feel like Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014) and Agents of SHIELD (2013-present) at times. Like the V.F.D., SHIELD ultimately found itself ripped apart from within from the very people they were officially fighting against. SHIELD, V.F.D, and their adversaries practically destroyed each other in their apocalyptic conflicts. Yet, much of the conflicts’ details were not of much help to those caught in the crossfire. A Series of Unfortunate Events was a show about surviving the debatable choices of the prior generation. Perhaps the only thing there was to learn from it all was something also learned in an even darker series, The Man in the High Castle (2015-present): every day we survive is a victory.
S1 – 94%
S2 – 93%
S3 – 100%